It is indeed the age of social media. With the pandemic taking over this year, as people went into lockdown, the relevance and usage of social media grew massively, revealing a powerful community of like-minded people.
According to statistics, there are currently 3.5 Billion social media users around the world, where the average user spends up to 3 hours a day on any of the popular networks, posting and messaging.
Looking at it from a business angle, apparently 54% of customers use social media to research for products including reading or watching reviews, and 65% of customers use social media for servicing. Put together, social media has now become more of a customer experience platform for businesses, rather than a communication platform.
Customers increasingly prefer social media over other channels to connect with brands and people, as it provides a more transparent and quick way to do so. As customers have become more aware of what they need, they are also looking for brands that are clear about their products and ways of operation. And social media gives them a chance to get up close and personal with brands.
It is all about giving the best customer experience, and not just customer service. Companies ought to stay on top of their social media game, failing which they stand to suffer huge losses.
A study by Gartner revealed that brands that fail to respond to customer messages on social media suffer a 15% increase in customer churn rates.
Furthermore, in a study by American Express it was found that as much as 80% of customers decided not to complete a purchase because of the poor customer service experience they received on social media.
To make matters worse, apparently a good number of customers will not reach out to brands even if they have a problem. The negative experience will simply spread by word of mouth without your knowledge.
In a study of tweets by Mention, it was found that only a mere 9% of customers directly message brands on social media. And almost 30% of customer service messages in the community do not mention you by brand name at all.
Clearly, businesses cannot afford to ignore the importance of social media in their customer service portals. In fact, it has become inevitable for companies to be active on their social media channels in order to reach out to customers more effectively and address their problems.
With conversations about your services going on among networks completely without your knowledge, it makes it almost impossible for you to find and respond to messages that are directed at you. However you cannot afford to let it go. It is important to get to the bottom of things.
This is where the concept of social listening finds its relevance. It helps you see what is not evident on social media and acts as the Seeing Eye Dog for prompt customer service.
What is social listening?
Social listening is the process of a tracking, analysing and responding to conversations and trends about your brand as well as your industry, and leveraging those insights to improve marketing efforts. It essentially helps you seek out conversations about you even if they don’t mention you, analyse what the community thinks of your brand and promptly respond to messages even if they are not directed at you.
In short, social listening helps you be present where conversations happen and allows you to take action to improve customer experience.
Two pillars of social listening
Social listening consists of two parts.
The first part involves gaining insights into general customer opinion and feedback about your brand, along with gauging industry trends to identify and tap new opportunities. This allows you to monitor conversations and be more active on social media.
2. Awareness and action
The second part involves becoming more aware of what people think of your brand and what is happening in the industry as a whole, and taking action to make improvements wherever necessary.
Importance of social listening
Social listening essentially gives you important insights to make improvements without disturbing users. Without social listening you will be oblivious to a lot of conversations about you, making it impossible for you to take action and make things right in case of a bad customer experience. You will be missing out on a lot of opportunities to engage with customers and provide good customer experiences to grow your business.
Moreover, studies have shown that bad customer experience spreads like wildfire. Apparently, customers after having received poor customer service on social media are likely to share their negative experience with 53 people on average.
That is a lot to digest, and that is exactly why big brands use different tools for social listening to get a control over all that is being talked about them on social media. Such tools benefit your brand in many ways, from giving you important insights to providing tools to take action.
Hipsocial is one such efficient social listening tool that comes with a host of features to help you gain the upper hand in taking control of general conversations and trends about your brand on social media.
From in-app actions to share, like, re-tweet etc. to interact with social media users and tools to find, monitor and analyse conversations about you, Hipsocial equips you with everything you need to up your social media game.
It also comes with other features like post scheduling and analytics to help you manage your social media channels in a more efficient way.
Tools like these are an absolute must-have for businesses these days, especially during times like now when everything from purchases to conversations about purchases, happen online.
The CMI/Compass talks about the power of social listening in the age of COVID 19 in this report.
Benefits of social listening
Social listening helps your brand in multiple ways.
Gain industry insights to create more relevant products as well as content
Social listening helps you gather a lot of general insights about your industry, with which you can identify market gaps and tap into good opportunities, analyse disruptive trends early on and be prepared for it, gauge political, climatic or general issues and create relevant content considering the public sentiment. In short, it lets you stay relevant in the industry and be responsive to the goings-on in the community, thereby improving brand reputation.
Get more insights on overall brand health
Social listening helps you understand what people think of your brand primarily. This kind of an inside knowledge helps you watch your customers closely, identify the problems they face and take advantage of the situation to introduce new products and features. It also helps you see what customers love about your brand and use it in your marketing venues.
Hipsocial offers efficient social monitoring features to help you clearly understand customer sentiment about your brand and take prompt action.
Engage with customers
Social listening also gives you more opportunities to engage with customers and get actively involved in community conversations even when they haven’t mentioned your brand. This allows you to be surprisingly prompt for customers and gives you a chance to reverse damages if any and delight customers with your action.
Hisocial features a number of in-app action capabilities that allow you to like, comment, re-tweet and share content that matters, thereby giving you a very active social media presence.
Social listening helps you gather useful insights on competitors including information like what content of theirs gets more traction than yours, what features of their product is not well-received by customers etc. This helps you enhance your product and content in a more targeted and purposeful way and stay strategically ahead of your competitors.
“Your competitor is no longer the shop down the street or even a contender in your home state or country. They are stealing your lunch from the other side of the world.” – Jeff Bullas
Manage a crisis
In social media, negative opinions and conversations can quickly escalate, giving way to a popular “cancel culture” where customers jointly boycott brands and spread negativity. Social listening helps you prevent such situations and allows you to get a better grip on negative conversations. It gives you a chance to address the situation before things get ugly and make things right.
Reduce costs spent on handling customer requests
According to a study by Brand Watch, handling customer service requests through social media is up to 12 times cheaper than handling the same by phone. Furthermore, McKinsey & Co. has also shown that moving to customer service through social media can reduce cost per contract by as much as 83%. Evidently, social listening helps reduce costs.
Find all the relevant social media channels you want to listen in on first
With a wide array of social media channels being used today, it can be quite overwhelming trying to make head or tail out of all of the information coming in. Hence, make sure to determine all the relevant channels for your company first and practice social listening with only those channels.
Hipsocial allows you to select the channels you want to listen in on, and lets you stream all of those channels in real time in a single place. It also automatically refreshes your stream at set regular intervals to make sure that you are up to date with the affairs.
Find out common questions people have in the industry as well as about your product and build FAQs around them
With the help of social listening you can watch conversations about your brand and about common problems that customers face, which helps you deeply understand customer concerns. Make use of this information and create detailed FAQs and guides to help your customers. This allows you to be more proactive with your service and delight customers by helping them find solutions quickly.
Find out industry gaps where you can introduce new products or new content
With the help of the valuable industry insights that social listening gives you, try to identify gaps in the industry and discover potential opportunities. Research more on the opportunities and work towards creating new content as well as new products to fill the gaps and become market leaders.
Set up alerts and notifications to get real time updates and provide quick responses
With the help of social listening tools, be sure to set up alerts and notifications for updates on feed, brand mentions, DMs, queries etc. so that you can provide quick responses and engage effectively in real time. This will help you stay on top of customer experience through social media.
Hipsocial provides auto refresh features that you can make use of, to stay up to date with the goings-on on different social media platforms.
Create a dedicated social media customer service team and respond customer concerns and queries proactively
Last but not least, employ a dedicated team online for addressing customer concerns and queries proactively, in order to gain trust. There is nothing more delightful for customers than when a brand promptly comes forward and helps them out, even if they haven’t mentioned the brand.
Nike for example, has a dedicated Twitter support team that responds to customer tweets about problems and concerns. They also spot general trends and address the common issues with a common tweet to help everyone.
With all of the above mentioned features and benefits, social listening is indeed one of the most important strategies to make use of for businesses. It helps you gain the competitive edge in attracting customer attention and gaining their trust, which ultimately leads to brand growth and in turn revenue growth.